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Dress your mantel


paula pryke garland and fireplaceAlong with the wreath and the tree, mantelpiece decorations are quintessentially festive – and they are easy to create. This simple garland uses soaked floral foam, the moisture from which will help the greenery last through till Twelfth Night. The quantities given are to decorate a standard Victorian mantelpiece – you may want to adjust the amount of foliage if yours is a different size.

You will need:

4 blocks floral foam
2 long spray trays
24 wooden skewers
roll floral foam tape
pillar candles: 4 x 7 in (18cm) high by 3in (7.5cm) wide, plus 2 x 11 ½ in (29cm) high, by 3in (7.5cm) wide

selection of foliage, such as spruce, pine, trailing ivy, variegated holly and berries
florists’ wire
30 long cinnamon sticks
15 fir cones
6 ½- 8 ¾ yards (6-8.75m) red ribbon 

paula pryke - dress your mantel picture 1 1. Soak the blocks of foam in a bucket of cold water for around 20 minutes, until the air bubbles cease to rise. Place the blocks on the spray trays and line them across the mantelpiece (don’t worry if there is a gap in the middle as the foliage will make the arrangement look continuous). Cut each skewer into four and tape on to the base of the candles so that each candle has four legs to anchor it into the foam. Make sure all six candles are secure.

paula pryke - christmas mantel piece 2. Once the candles are positioned, you can begin to arrange the foliage: start with the trailing ivy and place it at intervals all along the foam.

3. Fill in with spruce, pine, holly and any other foliage you can find in your garden to buy from a store. Use lots of berries to add colour. Make bows from the red ribbon as described for the tree.

4. Using florists’ wire, tie the cinnamon sticks together in bunches of five and the fir cones in clumps of three, then add them to the garland at different angles. Attach the bows, evenly spaced, along the length of the arrangement. (Once the candles are lit, remember never to leave them unattended).


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